The electronic duo Crystal Castles, made up of singer Alice Glass and producer Ethan Kath, is releasing its aptly titled third album “(III).”
This release finds them traversing the same musical territory of brash vocals distorted and undecipherable under Kath’s choppy and distant production. “(III)” is their most approachable record yet, as Glass mostly sings instead of screams, and the electronics are less in-your-face than previous albums. That being said, “(III)” is still a hauntingly dystopian and aggressive record, just in a slightly different way.
“(III)” finds Kath producing the entirety of the album, which is a first for Crystal Castles. The album also lacks any samples or covers; all the music was done in house by the band. The release showcases the band moving further toward the glimmering goth-pop of their last release and away from the chaotic jumbled electro on their debut.
“Plague” opens the album with an eerily similar sound to the “Prometheus” trailer, before Glass’s voice comes in over a thumping bass drum. Kath produces a repetitive synth beat that would be sort of danceable if the subject matter were not so dark.
The first single from “(III)” is titled “Wrath of God.” The track opens with a pretty, sauntering sound before the song builds pace and Glass sings, “migrate them / through the pesticide / they’ll strip you of your heritage.”
“Pale Flesh” opens with high-pitched synth noises, which are followed by an electronic drumbeat and a distorted bass noise. “Place the ash on their foreheads / an impression to embed / born-again before teething / collect tears from their weeping” shouts Glass in a barely decipherable voice, as she condemns baptizing infants since they cannot assent.
“(III)” often centers around the topic of oppression, and the cover image features Yemeni woman Fatima Al-Qaws cradling her son after he was teargased. Glass told British music publication “New Musicial Express” in July, “The world is a dystopia. I'm one step away from being a vigilante.”
This album is certainly a reflection of that view, though luckily she graced us with another album instead of donning a cape and mask.
“Telepath” has a hypnotic trance beat, giving the track a rave for the end of the world feel. It is easy to drift away into the track as it lacks any vocals, giving the listener a break from Glass’ abrasive voice.
The album closer, “Child I Will Hurt You,” is an unapologetically honest song about raising kids. The song touches on how we insulate children from the real world, setting them up for a rude awakening later. It is one of the softest and most beautiful tracks Crystal Castles has ever made, and Glass’ voice is breathtakingly lovely as she sings, “they know a soft caress / to lower your defense / hide all that you could / done for the greater good / it’s later understood.”
Crystal Castles has crafted another good record with “(III),” which is strangely more accessible than previous efforts — though the average listener will still find it very challenging. It is a rewarding listen that sticks with audiophiles and will leave fans pleased.